Tesla Registers Shanghai Electric Car Firm in China

First production model of Tesla Model 3 out the assembly line is seen in this undated handout

According to Chinese finance media outlet Yicai (link in Chinese), a May 10 registration for a company named Tesla Shanghai Co.

China has recently allowed the opening of its financial markets like never before, including allowing foreign investors to take a maximum 51% equity stake in brokerage firms, for the first time to counter concerns rise over protectionism and trade frictions.

China has said it will scrap limits on foreign ownership of NEV ventures this year and all automotive ventures by 2022, a major policy shift in the world's top auto market that has capped foreign ownership at 50 percent for over two decades.

Tesla, the biggest-selling electric carmaker in the United States, would not comment on its Chinese subsidiary on Monday.

Tesla was in talks with the Shanghai municipal government on building a factory at Lingang New City previous year, but the negotiations did not come to fruition due to differences on the ownership structure.

Its business range includes technology development, import and export of electric cars and components, it said, adding Tesla Motors HK Limited is the sole shareholder of the Shanghai company with an operation period of 30 years.

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A representative for Tesla China wasn't able to comment immediately.

China's relaxing of foreign automaker ownership is undoubtedly fueling Tesla's recent moves in Shanghai.

Analysts have said the main beneficiaries of looser ownership rules would be NEV makers like Tesla to protect its technology rather than cede a 50 percent share.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has previously criticized China's tough auto rules for foreign businesses, saying they created an uneven playing field. During the company's most recent earnings call Musk suggested a formal Chinese factory announcement could come as soon as the third quarter of this year. China sold 777,000 new-energy vehicles in 2017, a 53 percent increase over 2016.

Beijing has set an ambitious target, whereby new-energy vehicles will account for a fifth of total sales by 2025.

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